TAMPA – Former Winnipeg Thrashers star, Dale Weise said he scored “a couple of overtime goals” in junior, but added, “nothing compares to this.”
Weise, standing all alone in front of Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Andres Lindback, took a pass from Daniel Briere and blasted a point-blank shot into the corner of the net with 1:52 left in the first overtime period to give the Montreal Canadiens a 5-4 victory over the Lightning in Game 1 of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.
It was, indeed, the biggest goal of Weise’s NHL career.
“I had a couple of big goals in overtime in junior, but nothing like this,” Weise told a gaggle of reporters in the small visitors dressing room at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. “When that pass came out to me the only thing on my mind was shoot it as hard as I can. I had the corner spotted, but even if I’d shot it right at him, I was going to shoot it through him.
“We had about two or three similar chances just before and the last shift I kind of backed off on a play. I didn’t want to get caught. I came to the bench and Gerard (assistant coach Gerard Gallant) said, ‘Don’t be afraid to jump in on that one,’ and that’s what I did. (Michael Bournival) and Danny make a great play there, and even I won’t miss too many from there.”
Weise is not a big scorer. He had six goals and 10 assists in 61 games with Vancouver and Montreal this season. Fact is, he doesn’t even play that much (13 minutes and 21 second in a game that lasted 78 minutes and eight seconds last night), but he is much happier in Montreal than he was in Vancouver.
Traded by the Canucks to the Canadiens at the deadline back in March, he’d become a forgotten man in Vancouver. And while he wouldn’t use John Tortortella’s name, he didn’t have much good to say about the Canucks coach.
“It’s great to be in a place where the coach has faith in you,” Weise said with a smile. “The last time I was in Winnipeg, I played about two minutes. I was benched in the second period and sat out the third. The guy didn’t have any faith in me. He didn’t have any faith in his fourth line. But when I got traded to Montreal, it kind of saved my career. Michel (head coach Therrien) has had faith in me ever since I arrived and I appreciate the ice time and the opportunities I’m given.”
Weise calls himself a guy who “works his butt off on every shift.” But he also compares himself to a load of Winnipeggers who had clawed, worked, scratched and ground their way to the NHL, many of whom are participating in this year’s playoffs – Ryan Garbutt, Cody Eakin, Matt Calvert, Cody McLeod and Ryan Reaves.
“That’s one thing about Winnipeg guys,” he said. “We work our asses off. We never quit. We sure have a lot of guys like Jonny (Toews) who you knew were going to be NHL stars when they were like 16.”
You certainly didn’t know Dale Weise was going to score an overtime winner in the playoffs for the Montreal Canadiens.
Weise, 25, started playing the game at four and learned the game on the outdoor rinks his dad used to make. He grew up at Gateway Arena, played with the River East Marauders, Winnipeg Sharks and the Thrashers. He was chosen in the WHL bantam draft by the Medicine Hat Tigers, but was cut twice and traded to Swift Current. He was eventually drafted by the New York Rangers (fourth round, 111th overall) in 2008, but things did not, necessarily, go well.
“The Rangers cut me four times and the fourth time I wound up in Vancouver,” he said. “But I never quit. You just never quit.”
Because he never quit, he was in the right place at the right time on Wednesday night.
“I’m really happy to be in Montreal,” he said. “Ever since I arrived here, the coaches have shown a lot of faith in me. In Vancouver, I don’t think they believed in the fourth line and what it can do. Here in Montreal, I know my role and sometimes, you get a great pass and good things happen.”